The term “Olonne” in all likelihood derives from
the word “olona”, of Celtic origin, which designated a small hill, a knoll
emerging above the water.
The name Olona doubtless referred
at the time to the Île Vertime, this barrier beach terminated by
a rock on which the first houses were erected, which is now La Chaume.
A little history
While La Chaume had existed as a parish since the
11th century, the town of Les Sables originated in 1472 by the grace of
King Louis XI, who, discovering “the haven of Les Sables d’Olonne”, decided
to protect it by surrounding it with walls, thereby launching the development
of a new town. In the 18th century, Les Sables annexed La Chaume to form
a single municipality.
Les Sables lived through the centuries with the reputation
of a great fishing port (cod fishing in the 17th century, tuna and then
sardine fishing in the 20th century).
In the 19th century, the surge in sea bathing was
the occasion for extraordinary economic growth.